Users allege presidential Twitter blocks runs afoul of their free speech rights.
A lawsuit claiming that President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution by blocking members of the public from following his Twitter account could radically reshape First Amendment law and threaten public officials’ use of new social media platforms, the Justice Department argued Friday.
The Trump administration leveled the arguments in response to a suit filed last month on behalf of seven Twitter users who were blocked by the president on his personal account and allege that the blocking runs afoul of their free speech rights.
The users want a federal judge to order them to be unblocked while the litigation goes forward, but Justice Department attorneys are opposing that move. In a new court filing, government lawyers urged U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald to not even consider it.
“It would send the First Amendment deep into uncharted waters to hold that a president’s choices about whom to follow, and whom to block, on Twitter—a privately run website that, as a central feature of its social-media platform, enables all users to block particular individuals from viewing posts—violate the Constitution,” Justice Department attorney Michael Baer wrote. “More broadly, such a novel holding would cast doubt on the ability of government officials to direct their communications to particular audiences.”